Visit Ypsi Billboard

Jul 23, 2015

One idea can transform into a large-scale reality, and that’s the heart of Ypsilanti. Thanks to the help and minds of many individuals, there is now a beautiful work of art in the parking lot off of Huron.

That’s me underneath the amazing artwork of Caleb Zweifler!

My name is Marissa Kurtzhals and I’ve worked for the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (YACVB) since August 2014. A couple days ago I was a part of completing a project that has been in the works since before I started.

My predecessor, Christine Laughren, came up with the idea for the billboard while working at the YACVB. Christine was heading to Ghana to join the Peace Corps and handed over the project to me before she left. She warned me it was turning into a complex initiative that I may or may not want to pursue. But I knew Christine was onto an amazing idea, and I’m happy to report that the billboard is up, it is beautiful, and it makes us proud!

Before I go any further, I want to mention all of the folks involved in completing the billboard:

  • Caleb Zweifler – Illustrator of the billboard
  • Christine Laughren of the YACVB – billboard conceptualist and initial project leader
  • Tina Baum of Standard Printing – Graphic designer (and shoulder for me to lean on)
  • ExpresSign Design – Billboard printer
  • Gare Maxton – Owner of billboard
  • R2 Building Services – Installers of billboard
  • Me – Recipient of torch from Christine Laughren and project leader

How did we all work together? Well, Caleb developed the original artwork which you can see here:

Original artwork by Caleb Zweifler before being converted into a graphic image for print.

“When sorting through what to include there were the obvious suspects such as The Watertower, but Christine also made a point to highlight the Firehouse and Hudson Auto Museums respectively. Beyond that, I tended to gravitate towards the more unsung historical buildings of Ypsilanti that I’ve grown to adore throughout the years. I was particularly committed to rendering The Peninsular Paper Co. and the Farm Bureau Grain Feed, two of my personal favorites,” said Caleb.

We work with Caleb on many projects at the YACVB and could not recommend this guy enough for commissions! Caleb dedicated a lot of himself to this billboard and we’re very grateful for his talents!

From there, Tina at Standard Printing turned the illustration into a vector image. If we simply scanned Caleb’s original artwork, we could have run the risk of creating too large of a file for print, or worse, we could have printed a smaller file that would be pixelated and unattractive. Most billboards are high in the air and do not require this high of a resolution, but this project was unique…just like our beautiful city. I don’t want to give everyone a lesson in graphic design, but basically Tina at Standard Printing performed some magic that brought us a gigantic hi-res image that is attractive at eye-level. You can see the progress of her work here:

Tina Baum at Standard Printing converted Caleb’s original illustration into a graphic image so it could be printed and attractive at eye-level.

“What an experience. Up to this point Caleb’s piece was by far the largest vector illustration I’ve completed over the course of my career. Seeing that viewers can identify the artwork as one of his signature pieces means that I succeeded in keeping the integrity of his style. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with the billboard. It has been such an amazing experience from inception to creation and outputting to installation,” said Tina at Standard Printing.

Once we Tina completed her portion of the project, we worked with Matt at ExpresSign Design to print the sign and coordinate the installation with R2 Building Services.

And me? I made a lot of phone calls and sent hefty amounts of emails to make the project happen. I secured the lease for the billboard, and posted endless photos on social media once the project was complete.

I was able to get in touch with Christine (from Ypsi to Ghana!) and she was able to share her inspiration for the idea and this photo of the blank billboard:

The one and only Christine Laughren standing beneath the empty billboard, full of potential!

“I had been stewing on a billboard idea for quite some time. I wanted something interactive and accessible to social media platforms, and I wanted to share some #ypsilove in a big way. The billboard behind the CVB office was vacant for what seemed like ages and the placement was perfect. In collaboration with our amazingly talented illustrator, Caleb, and invaluable assistance and advise from the friendly folks at Standard Printing we were gearing up to make the dream a reality just before I left for Ghana. I look forward to seeing it up close and personal soon,” said Christine.

“As you can tell, the billboard was a substantial group effort. One that I was very fortunate and happy to play a part in. A multitude of thanks go out to everybody I mentioned above as well as the Ypsilanti CVB in general for being the kind of organization that supports endeavors such as this one and local artists such as myself. I hope the community finds it a welcome addition to our little town,” said Caleb.

When art is collaborative, the outcomes can be extremely rewarding. A group of dedicated individuals and businesses are typically required for large-scale projects like this. In an essence, I feel that’s what Ypsilanti is all about – Artists, businesses, and members of the community banning together to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary.

A progression of ideas and execution led to one-big-beautiful image!

The CVB would like to thank everyone who made this project happen and encourages everyone to snap a pic in front of it, and share the #ypsilove !

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